Looking for $7.4 Billion in Startup Funding? France Has It

  • Bpifrance says startup financing needs covered for three years
  • The sovereign fund will invest $225 million in startups

There’s a 6.5 billion euros ($7.4 billion) funding pot waiting in France for startups and innovative technology companies, the country’s sovereign wealth fund chief said, citing commitments from public and private investors.

That’s enough to cover financing needs for startups over the next three years in the country, Nicolas Dufourcq, the head of Bpifrance SA, told reporters in Paris on Wednesday. “The years 2016, 2017 and even 2018 are very well covered,” he said.

The state-backed fund and lender has spearheaded the French government’s push to attract investments for startups by providing subsidies, loans and capital in recent years. It plans to invest 200 million euros this year to buy directly into innovative biotechnology, Internet and so-called “clean tech” companies, up from 169 million euros last year, Dufourcq said.

Technology startups have been relying on the appetite of investors to raise funds at cushy valuations through private funding rounds in recent quarters. Last year, French ride-sharing application BlaBlaCar passed the $1 billion valuation mark when it raised $200 million, while Spotify Ltd. rival Deezer SA called off a share sale on the stock market and instead raised money from a group of investors led by billionaire Len Blavatnik.

Originally set up as a sovereign investment fund in 2009, Bpifrance has inherited a portfolio worth 14.8 billion euros spread over companies including Orange SA, funds of funds, and innovative businesses. The public bank, whose net income excluding one-time items rose 10 percent to 676 million euros last year, will seek to sell stakes in medium-sized companies to reduce its exposure to the manufacturing sector while it grows in services, Dufourcq said.

Bpifrance’s direct investments in small-and- medium-sized companies as well as those with mid-and- large capitalizations will remain little changed in 2016 from last year, when they amounted to 132 million euros and 777 million euros respectively, Dufourcq said. In total, the public bank invested 1.3 billion euros directly or indirectly last year, and sold 1.8 billion euros of assets.